First races in the books at Silver Springs Ranch
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The first new home to harness racing in Pennsylvania in thirteen years, and the first new fair harness venue in seventeen years, came to life in spectacular fashion on Thursday and Friday, as Silver Springs Ranch, a training facility located approximately a half-hour northwest of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, applied for a 2-day Fair Sire Stakes meet this year, was granted it, and then conducted a fine program appreciated by horsemen and spectators alike.
The tone was set in the very first race ever over the half-mile oval, as the Well Said – Harlow Hall freshman gelding pacer Halliwell Hanover broke his maiden in 1:59.2 for the first 2:00 mile of the year on the Pennsy fair circuit by a two-year-old. Trainer/driver David Brickell is co-owner of the promising youngster with Mitchell York.
That time would last the two days of racing as the “new track record,” although it would be equaled by the A Rocknroll Dance sophomore filly Dancin With Rosie, who defeated last year’s Fair Championship winner Sure R Lookin Good, for driver Tony Schadel and trainer Justin Lebo, who is also co-owner with Jamie Kiehl.
The other 2:00 mile of the meet was also produced by the sophomore fillies, as Able Hanover, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, won in 2:00 flat for trainer/driver Steve Salerno, co-owner with Dean Casaday. For Salerno, who swept the Pocono driving wins, training wins, and UDR “triple crown” in 1981, it was a special moment, as he had not driven in a purse race in almost 14 years! (A Team Salerno protégé, Emily Bost, would drive in her first-ever race two heats later, but she got in the Dancin With Rosie race and had to settle for fourth.)
The racing at Silver Springs brought out several Pocono drivers not normally seen on the fair circuit. 21-year-old Hunter Oakes competed away from the pari-mutuel tracks for the first time, and won with the sophomore gelding Way To Close in 2:00.2. Way To Close, four-for-four now on the fair circuit for trainer Todd Schadel, co-owner with wife Christine, did not threaten his 1:57.4 fair seasonal standard he set at York in defeating stablemates Motive Hanover (driven by Todd) and Find One More (driver by Todd’s brother Tony).
The fastest mile of the year on the circuit for trotters was notched at The Ranch, as the Muscle Massive sophomore filly Touch of Dough was victorious in 2:01 for driver Eric Neal, trainer Randal Neal, and the Neal Racing Stable LLC.
The Silver Springs races showed that both the veteran and the novice can compete successfully at the fairs. 88-years-young Don Wiest won with his freshman filly trotter Tuis Shadow, with Roger Hammer completing the “161-year-old Exacta”; earlier on the card, Hammer’s deputy Branden Smith notched his first career triumph behind the boss’s freshman pacing colt Caffeine Buzz.
The Pennsylvania fair circuit now moves on to Bedford PA, with racing on Monday commencing at 5:30 p.m. and then on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.